Blood test could replace biopsy for detecting cancer

September 14, 2015

A simple blood test could replace expensive and often-invasive biopsies for detecting cancer, according to research presented recently by researchers from the United Kingdom.

A blood test to establish the presence of cancerous cells would offer a quicker diagnosis at a fraction of the cost of a biopsy, said Eric Lim, consultant thoracic surgeon at Royal Brompton & Harefield National Health Service Foundation Trust.

A 2014 report showed the typical biopsy cost more than $14,000.

The UK study involved blood testing of 223 patients with known or suspected primary or secondary lung cancer. The test was accurate in almost 70 percent of the cases.

The test detects three cancer-specific gene mutations in the bloodstream. The researchers said similar gene patterns in lung and colorectal cancer would make the test useful for finding both forms of cancer.

“We hope this study will be a real game-changer that could ultimately lead to many more lives being saved through earlier diagnosis and treatment for all types of cancer,” Lim said in a post at Medical News Today.